A painful childhood memory is my first recollection of stinging nettles. My mother helped transform that bad experience into a curiosity for this versatile spring vegetable. While many enjoy brewing it for tea I think it comes out the best when picked and used fresh. With a few simple steps, the innocent-looking but stinging plant turns into a delicious soup. A perfect lunch or why not a dinner appetizer? The nettle has a flavor that equals nothing else. A friend compared it to a mix between cucumber and spinach but I’m not sure that’s close enough to give it justice.

When I go hunting for turkey or forage for spring morels I always keep an eye out for these under-appreciated tasty greens. Using gloves and a pair of scissors is recommended to avoid getting stung. The top leaves of fresh nettles is what you want to target. The nettles grow in patches so when you find one, you find many. In only a few minutes you can have collected enough for a family meal.

In Sweden, you can find a huge variety of recipes for stinging nettles. Often one will tweak it and personalize it. My two brothers both have their unique touch to this soup. What I present here is how I remember our mother, Märta’s, original recipe. It’s plain in its making and perfectly suited to explore the full dimension of the nettle flavors.

Ingredients - adjust to taste

  • 250g nettles

  • 1 quart/liter water

  • 2-3 knorr vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes (or equal amount in tsp of bouillon powder)

  • 1-2 tbsp butter/margarine

  • 2-4 tbsp flour

  • Hard boiled eggs for garnish or side


  • optional: Half a hard boiled egg in each plate

  • Many, many nettle soup recipes call for sour creme or milk to taste. My kids prefer their bowl of soup with a tablespoon or two of whole milk. It makes the flavor a bit smoother and cools down the hot soup.

The funky bright green color might throw some off - until they taste it.

The simple making of nettle soup

Wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands. Clean the nettles. Young nettles can be left with the green and tender stem. For older ones only the new, fresh and light green top leaves should be used.

Pour the water onto the stinging nettles and bring it to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Then turn off the heat.

Add the bouillon a little at a time and stir until dissolved. Take it slow and adjust according to taste. I preference is to have it just a bit on the salty side.

Use a staff mixer to get it all smooth. Mix butter/margarine and flour and a little bit of the soup to a paste. Whisk the paste (or use the staff mixer) until well blended with the soup. Cook for another 5 minutes while stirring. The soup should thicken up. If needed add more flour paste.

Garnish with a boiled egg per plate